So. The moon landings. Did they really happen or are they one of the biggest hoaxes of the 20th Century?
This isn’t a random thought that has just popped into my head (honestly, my random thoughts would make scary reading most days) but has been shoehorned there by watching “James May On The Moon” on the BBC last night.
Alas Mr May was neither flying to the moon nor exposing his shabbily trousered butt-cheeks to the good people of NASA but was instead delivering a documentary about the moon landings. And a rather good one at that.
I have no memory of the original moon landing given that it happened 2 months before I was born but I do take great pleasure in the fact that I was born into an age where men had finally set foot onto another planet. The very idea of it – people walking around on the surface of a world other than Earth – even today astounds me.
And yet, in other respects, we are so blasé about the idea of interplanetary space travel these days (with the sheer volume of sci-fi entertainment available to us) that for most teens and twenty somethings the idea of visiting planet Zog to buy a lightsaber elicits nothing more than a shrug. The idea of it has become somehow just an inevitable progression of modern technology. It’s accepted that it might not happen in this day and age but one day it most certainly will.
It’s just going to happen, OK? It’s no big deal. It’s just a matter of when not if.
But it is a big deal.
May was fortunate to be taken up 13 miles – to the very edge of space – by the United States Air Force in one of their impressively humungous U2 spy planes. A plane that resembles a pencil with the wings of an albatross.
May was visibly moved. It wasn’t difficult to see why. Looking down on a jumbo jet that is as far below you as it normally is above you when you’re standing on the planet must have been a jaw dropping experience. And then to realize that the only people higher than you are the people in the International Space Station... well, let’s hope the toilet pump in the space suit May was wearing was working properly.
It must be incredibly humbling. To be that far up and see the curvature of the earth... Imagine then to be 384403 kilometres away on the surface of the moon and to be able to blot out the entire Earth with the palm of your hand – as indeed one of the astronauts actually did.
How fragile we all are. How small.
Which brings me back to my original question. Was it all just a hoax?
I don’t think it was.
I know the conspiracy theorists out there will always argue that the whole thing was faked but yah-boo-sucks-phooey to them.
It was real. You could see it in the faces of the astronauts that May spoke to – the wonder, the mind altering awe of having actually stood on another planet. It was as real as this ergonomically unsound chair beneath my iron-hard buttocks. I’d stake my very virtue on it.
Why then have we never been back? the conspiracists argue. The fact that we haven’t must prove it. We can’t go back because to get there in the first place is impossible.
What is there to go back to? Until technology has advanced far enough that we can export a whole construction site up there and build Moon World there is very little point spending billions of dollars and risking lives just to send men up there to leap about and collect another handful of moon rocks to prove a point that the conspiracy theorists still won’t believe anyway.
Let them mope about in their miserable “we’re stuck on this planet forever and can’t get off it” headspace.
My imagination is bigger, brighter, richer and infinitely further reaching for a having a suitcase packed ready for my imminent trip to planet Zog...
From up here the Earth looks wonderful. And the rest of the universe looks... well, excitingly inviting.
Houston. I’m ready when you are.